NBA news: Despite missing All-Star and top scorer Devin Booker, the Phoenix Suns defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 114-111 on Friday night to grab a 2-1 lead in their first-round series. Read the article for this NBA News.
Chris Paul, the Suns’ guard and future Hall of Famer, was outstanding down the stretch, scoring 19 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to help the team stave off the Pelicans, while also giving out a game-high 14 assists.
Deandre Ayton was a beast on the glass, racking up 28 points, 17 rebounds, three steals, and a block, while Mikal Bridges chipped in 17 points and finished 9-for-9 from the line, including some key free throws late in the game.
Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 34 points and seven rebounds, while CJ McCollum chipped in with 30 points and seven assists.
Game 4 is set to take place in New Orleans on Sunday, but first, let’s look at four major lessons from Game 3, followed by a recap of our live updates from the evening.
Paul had nine points through three quarters and had primarily attempted to set up his teammates while keeping within the flow. When the fourth quarter arrived, the game was still tight.
NBA News: Paul also knocked down all four of his free throws
Paul, on the other hand, got to work in the only manner he knows how. With six minutes left in the game with the Suns behind by a point. Paul hit four consecutive mid-range jumpers to give his side a five-point advantage.
For most of the game, Paul set these up by distributing the ball to teammates (mainly Ayton). In crunch time, he took advantage of the additional cushion to get to his positions and make jumpers that, at this stage in his career, are basically layups.
“‘C, I’m going to get you loose,’ [Ayton] said at the timeout in the fourth quarter. ‘Shot the ball,’ I said “After the game, Paul remarked. “For our squad, simply him being outspoken like that is huge, because we need him and we trust him.”
In addition to his mid-range magic, Paul made all four of his free throws in the closing minute as the Pelicans played the foul game to guarantee there was no possibility of a comeback. With Booker out of the lineup, Paul knew he’d have to step up as a scorer down the stretch, which he did well.
According to NBA.com, the Suns ranked second in the league with 16.2 mid-range shot attempts per game during the regular season. It makes sense since defenses frequently force attackers to take these shots, and Phoenix boasts two of the finest midrange shooters in the league in Booker and Paul.